Speaking of first drafts, here’s a common issue I have been getting into lately – script length. I know most of the time we don’t worry about that in a first draft… just get the damn thing done right?
But of late I am finding myself worrying about it – why? Having done a lot of first drafts and read quite a few just this year alone, amongst the things I am noting with them is that if they are starting to run short, (80 – 90 pages), there’s always some bit of story that’s undercooked. Most times, I have left this to sort out in the second draft… but let’s put it in perspective and think about the recommended page length of a script in its final stages. From what I am hearing out there, the lowest recommended script-page count is 95, highest 120, ideal: 100 – 110. There is no specific rule of thumb for this – but one thing I am already discovering on my own is that generally when my drafts go lower than 90 pages, there is something I haven’t done enough of. Usually it’s something in the prep stages.
This doesn’t mean that I layer my draft with unnecessary fondant – but as with this thought on go into the story a few days ago in response to a reader’s question: I tend to think of my first draft more now in terms of development – developing content worth exploring – plot, characters, conflict, etc.
So in my case, as I am writing it, I am weaving back and forth – ALWAYS moving forward (not losing sight of the end) but also after some brainstorming, going back and adding things as I go, where I see fit. So far, this is working well.. and I am still on schedule!
A final note: while I don’t think it’s a good idea for everyone to see their first drafts this way (in terms of page count), I think keeping it in mind is not a make-it-or-break-it, but nevertheless, still a useful tool to know how well the overall story is developing and how much still needs to be developed.
How are your first drafts coming along? Drop me a line!